Archives by date

You are browsing the site archives by date.

Sullivan: Texas Ethics Commission goes on trial

by Michael Quinn Sullivan

Playing their part in establishment’s game to use state government as a vehicle for political retribution, the Texas Ethics Commission issued their maximum fine against me. They did exactly what we said they would do. And now we are going to make the commissioners defend themselves and their policies in court.

The real fight over attempts by incumbent politicians to limit First Amendment rights is about to begin.

By way of background, two left-leaning GOP cronies of liberal House Speaker Joe Straus filed complaints against me, and against Empower Texans/Texans for Fiscal Responsibility as an organization. (The complaints against EmTx/TFR, where Midlander Tim Dunn serves as the chairman of the board, are still pending.)

Straus and his cronies are frustrated by conservative groups like ours that educate and inform Texans about what lawmakers are doing in Austin. They want us to shut up and go away.

The appointed commissioners leading the TEC hoped a $10,000 fine would do it. Not a chance. Instead we are only going to be speaking louder. Much louder. And an agency that has a practice of hiding from the sunlight is about to get a lot more exposure.

The essence of their ruling is this: if you talk about lawmakers, rate them or along the way criticize the speaker of the House, the TEC will come after you. That was the point of the hearing last month and the ruling finally issued this last week.

Along the way, we learned the complaints were put together by a lobbyist for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and a liberal political consultant, both friendly with Speaker Straus. (That particular detail was something the commission staff and Straus cronies hid from us for more than a year.)

The ruling itself falls right in line with a pattern of unethical behavior we have seen played out over and over again at the Texas Ethics Commission. Earlier this year the TEC staff said in a public hearing that constitutional arguments don’t apply at the TEC. Apparently, neither does state law.

This ruling came down without commissioners voting, as is required by law. It was issued without commissioners deliberating in public, which is also required by law. And it was listed as a “unanimous” decision despite the fact that one commissioner wasn’t even present for our formal hearing last month and therefore is not supposed to have a vote. But then, Commissioner Chase Untermeyer is an appointee of Speaker Straus.

The TEC ruling is based on discredited witnesses and hearsay. Much of what the ruling describes as “facts” are baseless allegations unsupported even by any testimony or evidence. It was written as a political vendetta document, not a serious exercise in law.

Fortunately for Texans, the commissioners don’t get the last word.

A federal judge has already told the TEC that its subpoenas in my case were “absurd” — so just think what a court might say about their latest abuses.

We will be filing a “de novo” appeal as allowed by law. Simply filing the appeal itself vacates, or makes ineffective, the TEC ruling. That’s a right which serves as a check on the agency being used to attack political opponents. It’s also a right that the chairman and vice chairman of the commission, Houstonians Jim Clancy and Paul Hobby, have asked the legislature to eliminate.

Much like Lois Lerner at the IRS, Clancy and Hobby would use their bureaucracy to undermine our basic constitutional rights. Through my case, by proposed regulations, in legislative testimony, and public comments, Jim Clancy and Paul Hobby have committed the TEC to becoming a government censor, limiting public debate and silencing dissent. They are cheered on by Austin’s mercenary lobbyist corps, which despises citizens who engage in policymaking. The effort to regulate political speech is driven by big-spending cronies who are afraid lawmakers might end up listening to voters.

As I told the hosts of the Dallas NBC station’s political program last week, I look forward to watching the TEC commissioners explain themselves in court, under oath, in front of a real judge with real rules.

One last point. I was offered the opportunity last fall to pay a $500-per-complaint “make-it-go-away” bribe by commissioners because they didn’t want to be seen in public. I said “nuts” to that. And I say the same to this political maneuver disguised as a ruling.

Texans’ constitutional rights are too important, too precious, to give up without a fight.

Exclusive Interview: Rick Perry Says Deploying Troops to Border Sends a ‘Powerful Message’

by Josh Siegel

Texas Gov. Rick Perry compares the role of National Guard troops at his state’s border to the deterring effect that cop cars stationed along neighborhood roads have on crime.

Perry, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal, said even though the 1,000 military troops he activated to help manage the border crisis in his state will not be authorized to make arrests, the sheer presence of the military will deter illegal activity.

“It’s a powerful reminder that what you are doing is a crime,” said Perry, who has been a critic of the White House’s response to the border crisis. “It’s just like a law enforcement effort in your neighborhood, where you see a parked patrol police car on the corner, and the bad guys see it and don’t commit a crime.”

By announcing plans to deploy the National Guard to the border on his own rather than through the federal government, Perry has the power to order the troops to make arrests and apprehensions.

But Perry, perhaps responding to critics who worry about the troops’ lack of training in immigration law, told The Daily Signal he has decided not to give arrest power to those deployed to Texas’ border with Mexico.

“Their real job is not apprehension,” Perry said. “Border Patrol apprehends.”

National Guard on the Border

In 2006, President George W. Bush sent 6,000 troops to the four border states. They repaired and built fences and roads, and conducted surveillance, among other duties.

Troops in that deployment did not have apprehension and arrest powers.

“What you are doing is a crime,” says @GovernorPerry of illegal immigrants.

Troops were similarly limited when President Obama eventually extended that deployment while ordering a second wave of National Guard forces to Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico in 2010.

With troops’ responsibility likely to be limited again this time, Border Patrol agents who are responsible for apprehending and arresting illegal immigrant crossers argue that the National Guard will make little impact.

Border Patrol union representatives told The Daily Signal last week they worry the troops will interfere with agents’ work.

>>> National Guard Would Be Waste of Resources, Border Patrol Agents Say

Perry, who says he has talked to Border Patrol agents about his decision, believes otherwise.

“They aren’t displacing Border Patrol,” Perry said. “It’ll be just like how we partner with law enforcement. They want to see the border secure, so they won’t resist the assistance. Just the presence and knowledge that they’re deployed will have a powerful message.”

The troops that are due the border next month will actually work side by side with police officers of the Texas Department of Public Safety, not alongside Border Patrol.

The state officers are there as part of Operation Strong Safety, a Perry initiative approved last month that sent state troopers to the border to assist local law enforcement.

Just like the National Guard, state and local law enforcement officers can only defer to the Border Patrol those they suspect have entered the country illegally.

Stopping Smuggler and Criminals

Not including the deployment of the 1,000 troops, Perry said there are already 300 state and National Guard troops at the border for Operation Lone Star, an annual joint military and civil humanitarian medical mission.

“For those who say, ‘This is very out of the ordinary,’ the National Guard being at the border is not an unusual situation,” Perry said. “There’s troops at the border every year and there’s troops there now.”

Can the National Guard help Texas stop the surge of crossings on the border?

Perry hopes the new troops will send a message to drug cartels and other criminal groups that he says have exploited the latest border trend — the surge of Central American children coming across the Rio Grande Valley.

“There has not been as much focus on the drug smugglers and other criminals because of these children,” Perry said. “There’s been an effort by the cartels to distract Border Patrol into taking care of these kids. The danger that this situation presents for ordinary Texans and Americans has not been a focus of the mainstream media.”

>>> Brooks County, Texas: Ranchers Help Round Up Illegals Who Skirt Checkpoint

Perhaps realizing the threat, President Obama dispatched a team to the border last week to determine whether a federally organized National Guard deployment was necessary.

No matter what Obama decides to do, Perry has said he intends to ask the federal government to pay for his deployment of 1,000 troops, estimated to cost $12 million a month.

Perry, who warned the Obama administration about the border crisis in his state more than two years ago, did not speak with the president’s team while it visited Texas.

“This [the National Guard deployment] is important for the peace of Texas and the country,” Perry said. “I had to make a decision.”

Guatemala’s president: $2 billion ought to help border crisis

By Marianela Toledo

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina says $2 billion in federal aid and other U.S. investment in Central America could help end the flood of migrants across the U.S. southern border.

But it’s a fool’s game, says the leader of a charity serving immigrants from Honduras.

“I think giving money to these governments is a serious mistake,” said Francisco Portillo, president of the Honduran Francisco Morazan Integrated Organization in Miami

“Corruption in our country (Honduras) is huge, no limits. And the money they are talking about is coming from our taxes,” he said.

Giving money to Central American governments in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is basically the same as throwing it away, he said.

Instead, Portillo said, President Obama and the U.S. Congress should “ensure it is spent on helping these children who are returned to their countries.”

AP file photo

PRAY: Francisco Portillo, left, president of the Francisco Morazan Honduran Integrated Organization, says sending more money to Central American governments will not stop the flood of migrants rushing the U.S. southern border.

Guatemala’s Molina said to “attack the root of the problem,” the U.S. needs ” to think about making investments in countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.”

Since 2008, according to a Washington Post report, the U.S. has sent about $528 million to the three countries for security and law enforcement. The U.S. Agency for International Development in 2012 spend $148.4 million among the three countries for education, economic development, democracy, environment, heath and more.

But far from improving, things have gotten worse.

We talked with one person who made it across the border in recent weeks, fleeing what she said is the burgeoning gang culture in her native Honduras.

Ingrid, who asked that her last name not be used because she fears reprisals, said gangs threatened to kill her children if she did not pay.

“If I had not received threats about her,” she says, pointing to her daughter, “I wouldn’t have come.

“We came because they were going to take her because we didn’t have money to pay the ‘rent.’”

“Rent” is what the gangs charge people to let them live.

Ingrid said people who complained or refused to pay the gangs were killed.

“You cannot complain there (in Honduras). A lady went (to file a complaint with the police department) and when she returned home, she and her family were murdered.”

Despite the huge outlays of cash from the United States, violence and murder rates continue to climb.

The U.S. State Department data show 79 murders per 100,000 people in Honduras, among the highest murder rate in the world. El Salvador’s homicide rate has been rising steadily since August 2013. And it’s not subsided this year. From mid-February through April, an average 10 people were killed each day, the highest homicide rate since 2011.


Continue reading here.

Report: Planned Parenthood Boosting Profit by Overbilling Customers

by Kelsey Harkness

For the third year in a row, an annual report by Alliance Defending Freedom discovered widespread waste, abuse and potential fraud by Planned Parenthood on the taxpayer’s dime.

Steven H. Aden, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, called the latest findings “disturbing.”

The report comes as the organization faces backlash following undercover videos that revealed counselors offering controversial sex-ed advice about “BDSM”—a practice in which sexual partners beat, lash, or otherwise inflict pain on each other—to girls who the staffers think are 15- and 16-year-olds.

>>> In Undercover Videos, Planned Parenthood Suggests Sadistic Sex to Teen Girls

The report, “Profit. No Matter What,” suggests Planned Parenthood and its affiliates repeatedly engage in fraudulent billing practices that are designed to maximize its bottom-line revenues.

Detailing 44 known audits from across the country, the report documents cases of Planned Parenthood unlawfully billing “to complex, well-funded federal and state programs that are understaffed and rely on the integrity of the provider for program compliance.”

Aden said this amounts to approximately one in four Planned Parenthood affiliates that have been implicated and/or accused of fraud, waste and abuse.

A few examples:

  • Billing in excess of actual acquisition cost or other statutorily approved cost for contraceptive barrier products, oral contraceptives and emergency contraceptive, Plan B products.
  • Billing for services that were not medically necessary.
  • Failing to pay the bills for which an affiliate had already been reimbursed with taxpayer funds.
  • Dispensing prescription drugs, including oral contraceptives, without an authorized order by a physician or other approved health care practitioner.

>>> Another Planned Parenthood Caught Promoting X-Rated Advice to Underage Girls

Planned Parenthood receives more than$500 million annually from taxpayers, which amounts to almost half of the organization’s budget. The report estimates that improper practices have resulted in the loss to taxpayers of more than $115 million.

Aspreviously reported by The Daily Signal, the organization is set to receive additional taxpayer funding under the Personal Responsibility Education Program, an Obamacare-funded sex-education initiative.

1 in 4 Planned Parenthood affiliates face charges of fraud, waste and abuse.

In February 2013, at the request of Reps. Diane Black, R-Tenn., and Pete Olson, R-Texas, as well as other members of Congress, the U.S. Government Accountability Office opened a special investigation into the use of federal taxpayer dollars by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its related entities.

A GAO spokesman told The Daily Signal the probe expands on past work from a 2010 report on the federal funding to six organizations, including International Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“The team is using multiple federal databases and interviewing organizations’ representatives to obtain data on federal obligations and disbursements to these six organizations,” she said, adding that the report is expected to be issued next February.

>>> Government Watchdog to Investigate Planned Parenthood Funding

Black said she’s “pleased” the GAO, for the first time, is conducting a comprehensive investigation into Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

“The federal government providing taxpayer funding to abortion providers is a serious problem in our nation,” she said. “I look forward to reviewing the results, and ultimately mobilizing the support needed to stop federal funding of abortion providers once and for all.”

Whether or not Congress rallies behind greater oversight of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, Aden said Alliance Defending Freedom will continue issuing its own annual reports examining the organization’s controversial practices.

“I am hopeful that Planned Parenthood will be held accountable,” Aden said. “I think people are waking up to the realization that Planned Parenthood is America’s biggest abortion provider, and that they routinely abuse taxpayer dollars.”

Planned Parenthood did not respond to The Daily Signal’s multiple requests for comment.

Standing Room Only At Collin County Meeting About Immigrant Children

by Steve Pickett

With the threat of a so-called “immigrant tsunami,” Collin County Commissioner Mark Reid invited the public to attend commissioner’s court on Monday –- and they did.

It was standing room only at the county building, as people sounded off about housing immigrant children, despite there being no current plans to do so in Collin County.

Residents packed the meeting, with an overwhelming majority speaking out against any plan to bring children to the county. There are plans to house as many as 2,000 children in nearby Dallas County.

Commissioners are discussing a resolution that says housing minors suspected of being in the U.S. illegally is not in the best interests of our citizens.

A few spoke out against the resolution, like Cody Rodriguez, who said, “the people of Collin do not turn away from children.” Most others supported it.

Barbara Harliss said, “What we see is not immigration, but an invasion, a deliberate invasion.”

Concerns about crime and disease were raised. Mike Giles said resources should not be taken from American children to care for others.

“Don’t force our community, our county to do this. Do it on your own,” said Hugh Cabanaro.

Darryl Rivard of Prosper echoed those comments, saying, “America is dying. Lazy, uneducated moochers and parasites have infested this nation, and they are rapidly becoming the majority.”

Another meeting for citizen input is scheduled for next week.

See video here.

Texas lawyers line up to help flood of young migrants


by Natalie Posgate

Law firms, corporate legal departments and bar associations across Texas have started pro bono projects to represent Central American children flooding across the border.

But Nathan Hecht, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, said last week that many more in the legal profession need to step up.

Hecht said it will take hundreds or even thousands of volunteer lawyers to guarantee that cases involving the unaccompanied children are handled quickly and fairly under the law.

“The need is going to be a whole lot bigger than the supply,” he said. “Many lawyers are already standing up to volunteer, but we are going to need to call on a lot more to pitch in. This is going to impact our family courts very heavily.”

Big firms — Baker Botts, Hunton & Williams, Jones Day, Vinson & Elkins and many others —are already representing migrant children pro bono or will train lawyers to do so.

AT&T and ExxonMobil, with two of the nation’s premier corporate legal departments and award-winning pro bono programs, are preparing in-house lawyers to help out if needed. AT&T’s world headquarters is in Dallas; ExxonMobil is based in Irving.

“We are going to need all of them and a lot more,” Hecht said.

While migrant children are primarily the concern of federal immigration courts, Hecht said many of those seeking to stay will start their legal journeys in the state court system as part of the process of determining custody. He said Harris County family courts, for example, reported this week that they have 37 new cases involving the migrant children on the docket.

The chief justice said he and other court officials are researching possible ways to pay for senior judges to help handle the caseload’s anticipated jump. He said that the possible use of volunteer special masters is also being explored.

“Most lawyers, especially corporate lawyers, are not familiar with these family law issues, but it is an easily knowable area of the law,” the chief justice said. “Handbooks, materials and briefs are being prepared even as we speak to help out those lawyers.”

Some law firms have already sent lawyers to meet with the children.

“We have already deployed a number of our Spanish-speaking lawyers, primarily from Texas, to Lackland Air Force Base,” said Hilda Galvan, partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s Dallas office.

Lackland, in San Antonio, is one place where unaccompanied children who were taken into custody at the border are being sheltered until their legal status can be determined by the courts.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is pushing to open as many as three such shelters in the Dallas area.

Many law firms are working with nonprofit organizations, including Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Catholic Charities and Kids in Need of Defense, which have established programs that include training of lawyers unfamiliar with immigration law.

It’s “succinct, on point, almost cookbook-recipe-type training,” said Dan Garner, a corporate finance partner at Hunton & Williams in Dallas. “To not be experienced in litigation is not a barrier in this kind of work.”

The Dallas Hispanic Bar Association has formed a committee to recruit volunteer attorneys to represent the children. The committee so far has trained more than 100 attorneys. The Dallas Hispanic Bar is also coordinating volunteer opportunities to help children in shelters elsewhere in Texas and in Oklahoma.

Mey Ly, a Dallas lawyer at Littler, a labor and employment law firm, said that attorneys — regardless of their practice area — are in a unique position to navigate the law.

“We’re the only subset of people who can help in this way,” she said. “If we don’t do it, who else will?”

In April, Greenberg Traurig, which has offices in Dallas and Houston, trained more than 100 lawyers to handle child immigration cases. The firm has already tackled 25 such cases.

Jennifer Tomsen, a commercial litigator at Greenberg in Houston, noted that there is no right to counsel in immigration cases. Studies have shown that those who do have representation are three times more likely to secure a favorable outcome than those who appear without attorneys. Children are at an even greater disadvantage when they face a daunting legal process without counsel.

Under federal law, she said, juveniles from Central America may be granted permission to stay in the U.S. in cases where they “have been abused, abandoned and neglected by one or both parents and where it is not in the best interest of the children to be sent back.”

She added: “We train our lawyers for several hours to understand the complexities of immigration law and procedures under the law. The idea that a child will know and understand the legal standards involved and know the evidence they need to present to the family and immigration courts is a very far stretch.”

Legal experts say proposals to fast-track deportation proceedings for the children raise significant issues.

“It takes a long time for lawyers to gain the trust of the children in order to learn their situations and stories,” Tomsen said. “I worry that fast-tracking these cases will lead to due process violations.”

She has handled cases for a teen from Honduras and one from El Salvador. She won them both.

“They were the best days I’ve had in my legal career,” she said.

Aubrey Meyers, a lawyer at Holland & Knight in Dallas and a member of the board of the Human Rights Initiative, said it’s a common misunderstanding that 2,000 children would come to Dallas County under Jenkins’ plan. The numbers are much higher.

The shelters are expected to hold 2,000 children at a time, so when one group leaves, “there will be another coming in to fill those beds,” Meyers said.

There is concern that some lawyers are reluctant to step forward out of fear that their involvement could get then tangled up in the intense political debate surrounding immigration.

“There are certainly political issues to tackle here, but we need to address those issues without making these kids pawns in the game,” said Mark Melton, a tax lawyer at Hunton & Williams in Dallas.

Melton recently visited a Fort Worth facility hosting 30 migrant children. His interviews with children there were “absolutely heartbreaking,” he said. One 6-year-old from Honduras showed him bruises and scars on her arms and legs, the result of abuse at the hands of a caregiver back home.

“There will be plenty of time to be a Republican or Democrat, a hard-liner or a bleeding heart,” said Melton. “But at this moment, let’s just be human beings.”

Protest in downtown Dallas pleads for peace in Gaza Strip

by Lizzie Johnson

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story listed the location of the July 30 pro-Israel rally as Klyde Warren Park. The location was changed to Dallas City Hall.

About 100 people marched through downtown Dallas on Sunday night to protest Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip and to demand an end to the violence.

At the front of the protest line, Isa Abdullah’s voice was weak from shouting. Beads of sweat dripped down his face. The 23-year-old shouted into a megaphone, leading the group in a chant: “No more nickles, no more dimes, no more funds for Israel’s crimes,” he cried.

“Protesting is one of the great rights you have in America,” Abdullah said. “The blood of the Palestinians are on our hands because we are giving them money. We don’t want to get rid of Israel. We just want peace and justice.”

In addition to the rally, which was organized by 20-year-old activist Iman Howard, the group also held a weekend prayer service in downtown Dallas and marched through downtown Fort Worth.

The 20-day war has killed more than 1,030 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel has lost 43 soldiers, as well as two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker, the Israeli military said.

The outbreak of violence — the worst since 2009 — has centered on what Israel calls its right to defend itself against rockets launched by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Hospitals have been bombed, neighborhoods reduced to rubble and more than 100,000 people have been displaced.

Israel supporters are also taking to Dallas’ streets. On Wednesday, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the Jewish Community Relations Council will gather to show support for Israel from 4 to 5 p.m. at Dallas City Hall.

“The purpose of this gathering is to express the explicit support for the State of Israel among Dallas’ leaders,” said Cindy Moskowitz, board chair for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. “The senseless and indiscriminate violence from Gaza into Israel must immediately come to an end, and we wholeheartedly support Israel’s right to self-defense.”

For many, the goal is peace. Hashim Mohmand, who attended the Palestinian rally, said Sunday was his first time behind a picket sign. He came with his two sons, Haaris, 10, and Ahmad, 5.

“I am here as a parent today,” he said. “My wife and I don’t want people to be dying anywhere, especially little children. American people are good people. They just need to learn about what is going on. This is an issue of humanity.”

Dreamers deserve the chance to pursue education

It just takes one look at the two groups squaring off, shouting at each other across Elm Street this month, to see how a flood of children at our borders has become a Rorschach test of the passions that divide us over immigration. To one side, they are a human challenge to the conscience of our traditionally welcoming country. To the other, they are a threat to law, security and our economy. Send them back to danger and possible death? Let them stay and risk priming an unstoppable flow? It’s yet another heartbreaking example of how divided this country is on this critical issue.

Yet, take one look at Oscar Diaz and you will see a place where we all can agree, even on this contentious issue. Diaz is a straight-A student. He graduated in the top 10 of his high school class. He even earned an associate degree in computer science from a community college by taking classes while he was still in high school. Now he wants to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree. He wants to become a computer programmer and then help other people, including his siblings, get their educations, too.

But without help, it’s going to be hard. Maybe impossible.

Diaz represents another kind of immigration crisis building right around us. If we have the will, we can turn this crisis into a windfall for us all. Diaz was born in Mexico and has been living and going to school in this country since he was 8 years old. Now 19 and living in El Paso, Diaz is part of the group of young people who call themselves Dreamers.

Like Diaz, Dreamers are students who came here as children with their parents, have been in this country since at least 2007, and thus have lived most of their lives here. These children of undocumented immigrants now have legal status in the U.S. under President Barack Obama’s executive action.

Many of these Dreamers graduate at the top of their classes. Many get 4.0 grade-point averages. They do community service. Many are doing all this while working to help support their families. They want to be teachers, nurses, lawyers, engineers, veterinarians and accountants. They want to start businesses and help other people. They are young, healthy and motivated — both to go to college and to become productive members of society. The barriers they face are beyond their control.

Every year, thousands of these young people are graduating from high school, indistinguishable from their classmates in everything but this: While they have temporary legal status, they don’t have access to any of the federal scholarships or loan programs that usually enable low-income students to go to college. Despite their drive and abilities, all the usual ways that low-income students fund their educations are closed to them.

Dreamers like Diaz aren’t eligible — as all their classmates are — for federal grants or even loans to fund their education. While many are scraping together college hours one course at a time when they can accumulate funds, this is a slow, painful and often impossible way to finish school. Many of them, despite their best efforts, are going to wind up trapped in the low-income jobs waiting for those without college degrees.

There are at least 650,000, and possibly as many as 2 million, of these students in the U.S. right now. They are Hispanic, Asian, European — they come from El Salvador, Mexico, the Philippines, Korea and two dozen other countries. If we educate these students, we can create a powerful resource for their communities and for all of us in this country. If we fail to do so, we lose a whole generation of motivated talent and ability.

Over the past 25 years, we’ve worked to make scholarships available to American-born, low-income students in Washington, D.C., and we’ve seen the transformation a college degree can make in the life not only of an individual, but of his or her entire family. These people want to learn, to grow, to contribute. Surely, educating young people who want so badly to be educated and who will put their learning to such good use is something with which we all can agree.

Amanda Bennett is a journalist, author and the former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her husband, Donald E. Graham, is the former owner of The Washington Post. They can be contacted via email at

AT A GLANCE: Dream initiative

TheDream.US is supported by both Democrats and Republicans. It was created by a group that includes both Henry Munoz, finance chief of the Democratic National Committee, and Carlos Gutierrez, secretary of commerce under President George W. Bush. Its backers include Bill and Melinda Gates, Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich. So far, TheDream.US has awarded more than 300 scholarships to Dreamers. For more information, visit


To help Dreamers get a college education, make checks out to Scholarship America and mail to Scholarship America, Attn: Debra K. Johnson, One Scholarship Way, Saint Peter, Minn., 56082. Please indicate in the memo that your gift is for TheDream.US Scholarship Fund.

Or you can visit the website: TheDream.US/donate. Every $100 pays for one college credit for a Dreamer.

August Recess Fast Approaching, Congress Down to the Wire on Immigration

by Kara Jones

Incoming House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) dodged questions Sunday when asked if House Republicans would delay Congress’ five-week vacation in order to address the continual crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Indecision over how to approach the steady influx of migrant children has lawmakers playing the finger-pointing game in Washington. The House, Senate, and White House will need to act quickly and work together if they hope reach a deal by the end of the week.

Scalise stressed the urgency of the situation while speaking with FNC’s Chris Wallace this morning. He declared that Congress is ready to tackle the issue but President Obama is more interested in securing funds for the Democratic party than securing the border:

Well, it’s ironic. We’re here in Congress right now and the president doesn’t want to work with us while we’re in town, he wants to wait until people are gone. The president has a lot of time on his schedule to secure fundraisers, but he has no time to secure the border. He has not taken his job seriously in this regard. The House is willing to lead. The House has laid out what we’ll do to solve this problem. The president just wants to sit back and play politics. He’s flying around the country doing fundraisers, he doesn’t have time to sit down and work with Congress.

He could solve this problem today. He has been AWOL, he doesn’t want to solve this problem, but we do.

We’re going to stay, we’re going to work, and we’re going to get our job done. I’d like to see the Senate take something up and do their job. I’d like to see the president do his job. But we’re not going to wait for that.

Here’s a little secret about members of Congress: they are people just like us and they like to go on vacation just like us. There is no easy solution to the complex problem at the border. We will see what happens in September.

Clinton, Sotomayor and Castro to attend Friday event together

by Dan Merica

Hillary Clinton, Sonia Sotomayor and Julian Castro will appear together in New York City on Friday as part of Dream Big Day at the Bronx Children’s Museum.

Earlier this summer, Sotomayor surprised the former secretary of state during a book signing Clinton held at a Costco in Northern Virginia. The Supreme Court justice and Clinton shared a few words and held each others hand while the chatted.

Castro, who served three terms as mayor of San Antonio, Texas, was recently confirmed as the secretary of housing and urban development. He is widely considered a rising star in the Democratic Party and some even say a potential vice presidential candidate in 2016 – the same year polling shows Clinton as the overwhelming frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination.

Dream Big is a summer academic program run through the museum that uses art to inspire 120 second and third graders from a number of different Bronx neighborhoods.

Sotomayor, who was raised in the Bronx and jokingly says she prefers to be referred to as “Sonia from the Bronx,” has been involved since the start of the program five years ago and invited Clinton and Castro to attend Friday’s final presentation, according to Carla Precht executive director of the Bronx Children’s Museum.

“She has been at our Dream Big event every year for five years,” Precht said. “For the kids, this is their dream big celebration day.”

During the event, Precht said that students will display what they had learned and perform for Sotomayor, Clinton and the other dignitaries. Precht said that Sotomayor and Clinton would deliver short remarks that will be geared towards the children.